My son Justin and I went white water canoeing on the Speed River yesterday evening. Spring is really the only time you can do any canoeing of length on the river that bisects our glorious and royal city of Guelph (Ontario).
We were delivered to Monkey’s Bridge (on Victoria Rd) by my wife and had to walk several hundred metres up the bike and dog-walking trail until we could access the fast flowing river. In fact we had to canoe across a long strip of flooded land to get to the bank, disembark and then join the river proper.
The water was quite fast (perhaps it should be called the High Speed River in the Spring) and we had a few tense moments when forced near the left or right banks avoiding low hanging branches on trees tilted above the water (particularly Willow and Cedar). Luckily we were wearing bike helmets and minimized the scratching. At one point we had to haul clear across the river as a tree trunk was blocking almost the entire breadth. Breathtaking but fun.
The next near collision was at the Woodlawn Rd bridge whose central support is like a sharp knife edge. I asked Justin to pick left or right and he nearly took too long to decide!
Riverside Park has several obstacles to overcome. Mainly there is the large falls which is about 2 metres high normally but was probably bigger at this time of year. There is a sluice-way on the left side of this falls which is regulated by a guillotine-like water gate. Justin didn’t want to portage and suggested that we just shoot it but I told him again that we wouldn’t fit through the water gate. He said No. He wanted to shoot the falls. After portaging around I showed why we couldn’t do that particular ‘leap of faith’. Even in a kayak it would be difficult as it’s concrete below. But there are other little dams in the park and we did shoot the last three. The last one was about a 1 metre drop compared to about 0.5 metres from the other two. It was too late to avoid when I saw the huge standing wave at the bottom and so we got very wet. The canoe was about 1/6 full of water which we had to dump out while standing in the icy water.
We canoed down to just below where we live just past the Speedvale bridge and walked home. We were hoping to go further but the sky was getting dark and it did take a while to dump the rest of the water out of the canoe. Nope. Thoughts of a warm bath each won.
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